ISHD Program Graduates

Where are our students now?

Click on each person's name to learn more about them.

  • Yifan Gao (2017), Graduate Coordinator, Penn Engineering
  • Cathy May Moyer (2017), Ph.D. student, Special Education, Temple University
  • Hao (Lucy) Liu (2016), Ph.D. student, Psychology, University of St. Andrews
  • Rena (Ruizhe) Song (2016), Ph.D. student, Clinical Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary
  • Golkoo Hosseini, MD, M.S.Ed. (2015), Clinical Research Coordinator, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania
  • Liting (Lys) Lin (2015), International Student Coordinator, Chatham Hall
  • Fizza Suhail (2014), Guidance Counselor, Lahore Grammar School, Pakistan
  • Allyson Volinsky (2014), Ph.D. student in Communication, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania
  • John Knutsen (2013), Instructor, Harvard Medical School
  • Danming An (2013), Ph.D. student in Family and Human Development, Arizona State University
  • Nina Siman (2012), Research Analyst, Research Alliance for New York City Schools at NYU
  • Mengyang Wu (2012), University Psychological Counselor, East China Normal University, Counseling and Psychological Service
View ISHD Program Alumni Careers

 

Yifan Gao (2017)

Graduate Coordinator, Penn Engineering

 
Q: Why did you choose to pursue a graduate degree in Human Development at Penn GSE?
A: I majored in developmental psychology as an undergrad and wanted to pursue this focus at the graduate level.

Q: What was the single most important thing you learned in the ISHD program?
A: That we are all on a developmental journey, and everything that happens and every reaction we have, is part of our path. We need to look at our own growth from a developmental perspective.

Q: How did your experience in the ISHD program inform your career path?
A: The supportive faculty and staff showed me how to support student growth in academic settings. Now, I can use these skills to support other graduate students at Penn Engineering.

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CATHY MAY MOYER (2017)

Ph.D. student, Special Education, Temple University

 
Q: Why did you choose to pursue a graduate degree in Human Development at Penn GSE?
A: As a licensed social worker, I had enjoyed a 20-year career working with individuals and families in various capacities and venues. But as an autism parent, I still had pressing questions that kept me awake at night. I chose the ISHD program at Penn GSE because of the interdisciplinary approach, the outstanding faculty, and the diverse, supportive environment in which I could begin to explore a new career path that would help me answer those questions.

Q: What was the single most important thing you learned in the ISHD program?
A: The single most important thing I learned in the ISHD program was how to think like a researcher. I recognized that my passion for improving education for special needs students was only part of the picture. I also needed to refresh my academic skills and learn how to turn my ideas into actionable research projects.

Q: How did your experience in the ISHD program inform your career path?
A: Penn GSE welcomed me back into academia and gave me the tools I needed to move on to a doctoral program. Because my situation was not typical (coming back to study education after years in a completely different career), the faculty at Penn GSE were wonderful mentors who helped me tailor the ISHD program to meet my needs. They also connected me to professors and opportunities in the larger University of Pennsylvania community, which was invaluable in helping me get to where I am today.

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Hao (Lucy) Liu (2016)

Ph.D. student, Psychology, University of St. Andrews

 
Q: Why did you choose to pursue a graduate degree in Human Development at Penn GSE?
A: To further my understanding and inquiry skills specifically in relation to my interest in cognitive development, I pursued the master’s degree in Human Development at Penn GSE.

Q: What was the single most important thing you learned in the ISHD program?
A: The ISHD program allowed me to learn more about my persistence and potential along with valuable academic knowledge. During my three-year research experience with supervision by Dr. Douglas Frye, I was always encouraged to explore my own research interests through all kinds of means, such as presenting at a conference and reaching out to local preschools. Through these experiences, I gradually narrowed down my academic interests and renewed my determination to pursue a research career.

Q: How did your experience in the ISHD program inform your career path?
A: With the department’s great influence in local and national education, being a junior researcher at Penn GSE greatly motivated me to use my own research to expand our knowledge of children’s learning. This research experience working with Dr. Douglas Frye provided me with a more holistic view of the role of researchers in developmental psychology. Besides the great coursework provided within the program, I was also encouraged to take advanced statistics and computer programming courses to enhance my data analysis skills. Through well-rounded training, the ISHD program prepared me to take on the highly self-motivated research role as a Ph.D. student.

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Rena (Ruizhe) Song (2016)

PhD Student, Clinical Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary

 
Q: Why did you choose to pursue a graduate degree in Human Development at Penn GSE?
A: I chose to pursue a degree in human development at Penn GSE for a couple reasons. One, because my previous work as a teacher raised many questions for me on how to teach my students, as well as how to support their healthy development, especially mentally and emotionally. Two, because the professors at Penn GSE are currently researching topics that directly align with my interests, which included adolescent development, youth mentoring, and cultural factors in development.

Q: Why did you choose to pursue a dual-degree?
A: I chose to pursue a dual degree with SMART after my first semester in ISHD because I saw a need to augment my readings in ISHD with more methods courses to understand and critique the papers that I was reading. I wanted to understand the full extent of the papers, not just the theoretical frameworks but also how experiments were conducted and data was analyzed. I also wanted to produce research in the future, and the combination of ISHD and SMART set me on the path to pursuing a doctorate.

Q: What was the single most important thing you learned in the ISHD program?
A: This is a hard question to answer, because there are many! I think one important skill that I gained was how to interpret research studies. The context is very important. Nothing should be interpreted out of context, and that includes researcher bias as well (assessing our personal biases was something we were trained to do early on in the program).

Q: How did your experience in the ISHD program inform your career path?
A: My time in the ISHD program helped me refine more of what I care about and what I enjoy doing. It opened doors for me to pursue doctoral opportunities, and I will be working toward a Ph.D. in clinical psychology in Fall 2016, a career change for me.

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Golkoo Hosseini, MD, M.S.Ed. (2015)

Clinical Research Coordinator, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania

 
Q: Why did you choose to pursue a graduate degree in Human Development at Penn GSE?
A: I am a medical doctor interested in pursuing my specialty training in psychiatry. I chose to study Human Development because I believe the first step in understanding psychopathology and its etiologies is to learn the normal development of the human psyche and factors that affect this development. This perspective will help us to design more helpful preventive approaches, and also choose more effective and individualized treatments. I found the curriculum of ISHD at Penn GSE very compatible with my areas of interest. Also, Penn GSE offers a lot of research opportunities in various areas.

Q: What was the single most important thing you learned in the ISHD program?
A: I would say the interdisciplinary nature of human development, meaning that you cannot fully understand human development without looking at it from different academic perspectives.

Q: How did your experience in the ISHD program inform your career path?
A: I can obviously see that I have a more holistic and multidisciplinary approach toward psychiatry and mental health in comparison with some of my colleagues. I gained this perspective through the ISHD program.

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Liting (Lys) Lin (2015)

International Student Coordinator, Chatham Hall

 
Q: Why did you choose to pursue a graduate degree in Human Development at Penn GSE?
A: As a secondary school teacher, I wanted to know my students more holistically. I needed a strong theoretical background to support my teaching and day-to-day interactions. The social, cultural, physical, cognitive, and psychological development of my students are my interests, and ISHD at Penn GSE gave me insights in all the perspectives that I hoped for.

Q: Why did you choose to pursue a dual-major?
A: I have a dual-major in Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Development and Reading/Writing/Literacy. The two programs have quite different focus and cultures, but I enjoyed both equally. The foundation in developmental psychology helped me to determine what can be done differently in practical terms, while the training in RWL got me to ask the more philosophical questions related to power and humanity. Both majors shifted my understanding about my own beliefs and the field of education, and both gave me tools to do research in the field. I appreciate that Penn GSE offers opportunities for all kinds of people to come and meet their own goals of professional development.

Q: What was the single most important thing you learned in the ISHD program?
A: Adolescent development combined with social development brings out some really useful insights and ideas when I am facing student behaviors now. With the research method, it gives me a critical point of view to see and understand phenomenon. Adolescent development enables me to take a holistic perspective about individual experience.

Q: How did your experience in the ISHD program inform your career path?
A: I believe the training I got from ISHD gives me a lot more choices in the school community. As a classroom teacher and faculty member in a boarding school, it means I can and I do have the capacity to participate in school culture discussion, help design programs, build positive relationships with the students, and even do action research.

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Fizza Suhail (2014)

Guidance Counselor, Lahore Grammar School, Pakistan

 
Q: Why did you choose to pursue a graduate degree in Human Development at Penn GSE?
A: The ISHD program was of a lot of interest to me because of its interdisciplinary nature that would allow me to explore human development from a number of different perspectives. Penn GSE’s diverse community was also a determining factor as well as all the work Penn GSE was doing in the education community, particularly in Philadelphia, so that we were in the midst of opportunities to put what was being taught to use.

Q: What was the single most important thing you learned in the ISHD program?
A:In retrospect, I think the most important thing I learned in the ISHD program has to be the ability to work with diversity in creating and implementing programs. Diversity does not only come in the form of color or religion but also personal beliefs, identity, life experiences and so much more. As a result, I am very mindful of this professionally and that has led to very respectful and conducive interactions with the children I work with.

Q: How did your experience in the ISHD program inform your career path?
A: ISHD really opened up my career options. I went into the program very sure about what I wanted to do after my M.S. and came out completely confused – because there was so much to do! My focus had always been adolescent development but the program equipped me with tools and a mindset that could help empower the youth in so many ways other than those I had previously imagined. Currently, I am working as a guidance counselor with high school boys at Lahore Grammar School, Pakistan. The school is one of the best in the city I am currently living in and the students we have are often very strong academically. It is exhilarating to work with these kids – we have not only been exploring potential career paths for them but also equipping them with lessons in mindfulness, stress management, and particularly on how to avoid burnout – all issues very relevant when you are studying in a highly competitive environment with expectations to perform exceedingly well. I hope to continue this journey with the youth with more research and more tools in the future.

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Allyson Volinsky (2014)

Ph.D. student in Communication, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania

 
Q: Why did you choose to pursue a graduate degree in Human Development at Penn GSE?
A: I chose the ISHD program because I wanted an interdisciplinary course of study that would allow me to make connections across various disciplines of human development. I was drawn to the program by its faculty, research opportunities, and the Penn GSE community.

Q: What was the single most important thing you learned in the ISHD program?
A:I learned a lot about theory and its applications to research in my classes and in the lab.

Q: How did your experience in the ISHD program inform your career path?
A: The ISHD program further strengthened my interest in studying human behavior. I know that my experiences in the ISHD program, both inside and outside the classroom, will stay with me as I begin my Ph.D. program at the Annenberg School for Communication.

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John Knutsen (2013)

Instructor, Harvard Medical School

 
Q: Why did you choose to pursue a graduate degree in Human Development at Penn GSE?
A: I was interested in an interdisciplinary approach to studying child development.

Q: What was the single most important thing you learned in the ISHD program?
A: The single most important thing I learned in the ISHD program was how to think like a scientist.

Q: How did your experience in the ISHD program inform your career path?
A: Broadly speaking, my experience in the ISHD program informed my career path by allowing me to seek out my own intellectual pursuits in human development. Specifically though, it was the excellent mentoring I received and research skills I developed from Drs. Douglas Frye and Michael Nakkula that continue to help me achieve my goal of an academic research career.

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Danming An (2013)

Ph.D. student in Family and Human Development, Arizona State University

 
Q: Why did you choose to pursue a graduate degree in Human Development at Penn GSE?
A: I felt confident that Penn GSE's high reputation and program opportunities could prepare me for my future career.

Q: What was the single most important thing you learned in the ISHD program?
A: I learned how to be a good researcher in human development.

Q: How did your experience in the ISHD program inform your career path?
A: The many opportunities to work with the professors on research projects gave me the knowledge, experience, and skills needed for doctoral study. It also helped me discover which doctoral programs would fit my interests.

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Nina Siman (2012)

Research Analyst, Research Alliance for New York City Schools at NYU

 
Q: Why did you choose to pursue a graduate degree in Human Development at Penn GSE?
A: During my undergraduate studies as a Psychology major at Lehigh University, it was clear that I wanted to pursue a career that involved working with children in a research setting. The alignment of my interests, the uniqueness of the ISHD Master’s program -- specifically the length and flexibility to choose between a thesis or comprehensive exam -- and the impressive educator community were all critical factors in pursing my graduate degree at Penn GSE.

Q: What was the single most important thing you learned in the ISHD program?
A: My time at Penn GSE greatly enlightened me to the complex world of education. I had the opportunity to learn the basics of quantitative and qualitative coding, both of which are important skills in my current job. In just one year I felt much more informed, prepared, and excited to start a career in education research.

Q: How did your experience in the ISHD program inform your career path?
A: By taking advantage of research-based courses, in addition to the core developmental courses, I was able to successfully market myself to research institutes and start my career at the Research Alliance for New York City Schools at NYU.

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Mengyang Wu (2012)

University Psychological Counselor, East China Normal University, Counseling and Psychological Service

 
Q: Why did you choose to pursue a graduate degree in Human Development at Penn GSE?
A: I chose the ISHD Program because of its interdisciplinary approach, the variety of courses, the great professors, and Penn's gorgeous campus.

Q: What was the single most important thing you learned in the ISHD program?
A: To devote myself passionately to the things I love and to work hard!

Q: How did your experience in the ISHD program inform your career path?
A: I received enormously helpful advice on my career path from professors in the program. Without their guidance I wouldn’t have become who I am now.

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